About 650 homes in Maple Ridge are without phone lines tonight after thieves stole one hundred metres of telephone cable off the poles.

The theft, which occurred at approximately 3:30 or 4:00 a.m., leaves Telus customers without phone service, -- including emergency 911 service -- or internet service.

The third such incident in three days, thieves are going after the copper wire inside the phone lines to sell the scrap metal for cash. Copper prices have rallied recently, making the red metal more highly desirable for thieves.

Telus estimates the thefts cost the company about $50,000 each. The company says service should be restored by Sunday evening.

Bob Boileau, who lives in the area, heard his alarm system trip when the phone line was cut. He went down the road and saw another vehicle.

"I seen some tail lights come on all of a sudden in the middle of the road," he told CTV's Dave Pinton. "So when I came up to it there was a guy in the passenger seat waving me by him. So I drove by real slow and got the plate number."

But it turns out the plate was stolen. That, along with walkie talkies and cutting tools found in the area, shows residents -- and police -- the thieves planned ahead.

The culprits also robbed a group home for the mentally challenged of their phone service.

The caregiver for the group home, Jaswinder Kang, told CTV News she hopes no one in the home has an emergency before service is restored.